Does Food Affect Your Mood?

April 30, 2013

How does food affect your mood? Find out here and what you can do about it.

Do foods cause changes in mood, possibly even triggering aggressive behavior? Quite possibly yes, a study from the University of California, San Diego Medical School showed that “greater trans fatty acids were significantly associated with greater aggression… Trans fats interfere with omega 3 metabolism,” according to study researchers. And the unfortunate thing is that our fast food lifestyle includes little omega-3 rich foods – like salmon, herring, mackerel, walnuts, flax and chia seeds.

Previous studies have demonstrated that a lack of omega-3 is linked with depression and antisocial behavior. A study from the University College London found that those who consumed diets high in processed foods, meat, chocolate, sweetened desserts, fried foods, refined cereals, and high fat dairy products were more likely to experience depression versus those whose diets consisted of more whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and fish.

What other factors can affect our mood? A drop in blood sugar! Another study demonstrated that when levels of serotonin in the brain drop, from stress or not eating, it affects the brain regions regulating anger, potentially resulting in an overwhelm of emotions – that many of us are not prepared to deal with. Takeaway? don't leave home without a healthy snack, even a handful of almonds will help!

Another mood swinger is sugary foods! Think about your own energy highs and lows from sugar (sugar rush, then crash), and then think of the kids who are hyper after a sweet snack.  And if a sweet snack is every meal, their life is a sugar roller-coaster - affecting the brain and body. Too much sugar in some people can cause depression, moodiness, irritability and more, depending on the individual.

As of now the food mood connection isn’t widely accepted; the evidence isn’t bulletproof and correlation does not prove causation. It is very difficult to study nutrition patterns and behaviors, health outcomes, etc as there are many variables. The best thing you can do for your self and your family is to listen to your body, and see how you feel after eating certain foods. After all we are all individual and will have different triggers.